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2008 Lambarene Schweitzer Fellow Meredith Dixon, pictured with patients.

In 1913, Dr. Albert Schweitzer traveled to Lambaréné, Gabon in West Central Africa, founding the iconic hospital that bears his name.

Nearly 100 years later, the Schweitzer Hospital continues to serve as the surrounding region’s primary source of health care — and with the selection of 2010 Lambaréné Schweitzer Fellows, The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) has embarked on its third decade of competitively selecting U.S. medical students to work there on clinical rotations:

  • Sophia Hermann*, University of Illinois, College of Medicine at Chicago
  • Wael Salem, Mayo Medical School, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine
  • Kathryn Skelly, University of Vermont College of Medicine
    *2008-09 Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellow

Acting as junior physicians in pediatrics or medicine rotations, these Lambaréné Medical Fellows will work together with an international staff of Gabonese and expatriate professionals to provide skilled care through over 35,000 outpatient visits and more than 6,000 hospitalizations annually for patients from all parts of Gabon.

Their efforts will be accompanied by those of three 2010 Lambaréné Public Health Fellows:

  • Elise Fields, University of Washington
  • Kathryn LaRusso, Boston University School of Public Health
  • Annie Nagy, University of Pittsburgh

Beginning in 2007, ASF began competitively selecting Public Health Fellows — students or recent graduates with significant public health training and/or experience — to work with the Hospital’s Community Health Outreach Program in providing village-based health care (including maternal/child health, HIV/AIDS education and prevention, TB education and follow-up, and malaria prevention and treatment).

Since 1979, more than 100 individuals (including ASF’s President, Lachlan Forrow, MD) have served as Lambaréné Schweitzer Fellows. Many have found their three months to be among the most valuable of their professional training.

“It wasn’t until Lambaréné that I discovered what it meant for me to be a doctor, unshielded from the protective layers that our society imposes on medical practice,” says 1998 Lambaréné Fellow Ezra Barzilay, now an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control. “I got to know my patients and their families and their stories; I shared happiness and sadness with them, and for a few months I felt that I became part of the community.”

Upon returning to the U.S., Lambaréné Fellows become part of another community: the Schweitzer Fellows for Life network. The Fellows for Life network is a pipeline of more than 2,000 Lambaréné and U.S. Schweitzer Fellows who are dedicated and skilled in addressing the health needs of vulnerable communities throughout their careers as professionals.

To read more about the Lambaréné Schweitzer Fellows Program, click here.

To read more about the history of the Schweitzer Hospital, click here.

For more information, contact Patrice Taddonio at ptaddoni@bidmc.harvard.edu.